Former Wirth executive gets probation

  • Article by: JANET MOORE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 5, 2012 - 7:03 PM

Paul Fox also was ordered to pay restitution for his role in tax fraud.

A former Wirth Cos. executive was ordered to pay restitution and sentenced to probation for his role in a tax fraud conspiracy described by prosecutors as one of the largest in state history.

Paul William Fox, 48, of Coon Rapids, was sentenced last week to three years' probation and ordered to pay $33,536 in restitution by U.S. District Judge Ann Montgomery. Fox had pleaded guilty in federal court in Minneapolis to a misdemeanor charge involving filing false documents with the IRS.

According to court documents, Fox "has been contrite and accepted responsibility for his offense. ... He has tried to make things right" by cooperating with prosecutors in their investigation of the commercial real estate empire once controlled by developer Jeffrey Wirth.

Fox is the fourth and final defendant to be sentenced in the case, which involved Wirth, his now ex-wife, Holly Damiani, and the company's tax preparer, Michael Murry.

The Wirth Cos. was involved in developing water parks in Bloomington and Brooklyn Park, as well as the Grand Hotel in Minneapolis. Despite enjoying a lavish lifestyle, the Wirths paid just $7,567 in federal income taxes between 2003 and 2006.

Fox was employed by the Wirth Cos. from 1995 through 2009, when he left voluntarily due to growing concerns about the firm's business practices, according to court documents. He had served in various positions, including controller, director of operations and vice president of real estate services.

Fox was the last to be sentenced in the case. In his plea agreement hearing last year, he said he knowingly did not include car payments his employer made on his personal vehicle when he filed his income tax returns in 2006, understating his taxable wages as a result.

Wirth was recently sentenced to 4 1/2 years in federal prison and ordered to pay $6.45 million in restitution after pleading guilty to conspiring to evade paying federal taxes. Damiani was sentenced to three months in federal prison after pleading guilty to a single count of filing a false federal individual income-tax return. As part of her plea, she helped the government in its investigation.

Murry was fined $50,000 and sentenced to 18 months in federal prison for his role in the scheme.

Janet Moore • 612-673-7752

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